NewMusicBox article.

Visiting Lou Harrison's Worlds

I've been listening to a lot of Lou Harrision this past week in preparation for the all-Harrision show in Berkeley tomorrow night at BAM/PFA, and have really enjoyed exploring La Koro Sutro and Varied Trio. (Bonus: I also discovered John Luther Adams' For Lou Harrison, which is fantastically beautiful - I call Bay Area dibs in 2017!)

Lou Harrison, on his retreat at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside CA,

I've also been reading transcripts of interviews that Harrison gave and wanted to share a few choice quotes. The first comes from this 2002 inverview.

AB: I think I've seen it somewhere written that you mentioned that you were concerned within that piece about the balance; that the piece is a world contained unto itself.

Harrison: Yes, well, all of my symphonies are like that. You are making a world. The world contains interesting humorous small objects, and it contains the heart and expression from the inside, and then it contains action, movements, and sometimes the monumental. Yes. You're building a world of that sort. It represents your civilization in a sense. That sounds high-faluting, but the expression of your culture is there. You're a part of it.

These two quotes come from this inverview conducted in 1987.

BD: Well, should we continue the division of the nation or should we try to make sure that everything is integrated East and West?

LH: I don't see why integration need be. It will happen anyway to a degree. For example, I'm assimilating from Asia all the time, as are others in the United States, and also disseminating from the West. So it's a combination. I don't see that there's any need to trim everybody up and get him in uniform. I think that a richness of culture is desirable, and since we're a nation founded on both secular and commercial foundations, and philosophically as well, I think that that variety is a good thing and an enriching thing.

I just thought this was hilarious. 

BD: Are you at all optimistic about the future of humanity?

LH: Not the slightest bit.




I came across another interview (with a friend of Harrison's) about the genesis of La Koro Sutra and Harrison's interactions with eastern music & travels around Asia recently. Apparently he performed La Koro Sutra in Japan for the generation that lived through WWII there. For a bunch of Japanese Esperanto-speakers actually! Seems to have been a really emotional show for all of them. Anyway, it's a sweet interview.

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